The Research Department (a.k.a. my brilliant and lovely wife) shipped me this article thru the ether the other day: Ethical Style: Don’t Donate Clothes, Repurpose Them – Lifestyle – GOOD. Now, I haven’t delved too deeply into the whole thrift shop-clothing-rags-overseas thing, so there may be an environmental or ethical wrinkle (pun intended) to donating to thrift shops. Nevertheless I think that, as with so many things, It All Depends.
I have seen firsthand the mountains of stuff that Goodwill Outlets have to process, and I admit that there’s a fair amount that probably isn’t worth buying. But whose fault is all that stuff? Certainly not Goodwill’s. Planned obsolescence, conspicuous consumption, and low, low prices on all sorts of things we probably don’t actually need have surely played a much larger role in the accumulation of all that detritus. Goodwill and other thrifts are just trying to make some money and help some people find jobs. Don’t blame the vulture for the carcass.
Anyway…the bulk of the article is about the “F” in “T.H.R.I.F.T”— what I called “fix-its,” or repairing and repurposing used clothing to live another life. Now that I think of it, shop rags are repurposing, aren’t they? Anyway…the author’s premise is spot-on. Sewing, like cooking, is a skill that many modern Americans lack for many of the same reasons: the gradual move out of rural communities and into cities; the forced, piecemeal interdependence of industrial society; the pull of “progress” and “modernity” away from manual labor as a dignified pastime; those low, low prices again; and others, I am sure.
As a result, the work has been outsourced to the low end of the wage scale and the skills have gotten somewhat lost among the general population. It seems to me also that modern (polyester) fabrics are less well-suited to re-use than the classics: cotton, wool, linen, etc. I’m sure this is purely a coincidence. Yeah. That’s it. Anyway…I must confess to little skill in this area. I can replace a button or mend a small rip in a seam, but that’s the extent of my training. The concept intrigues me, though, as it’s right in line with my DIY philosophy. We even have a sewing machine downstairs, though I think it is lacking a few essential parts. It’s also in a few pieces.
And yet…there’s a technical curve I’ll have to overcome along with developing the other skills; a new machine to learn the use and care of; new lingo and accessories. Time and effort into developing a skill set and a body of knowledge sufficient to the task will have to come from somewhere else, and I don’t know where that place is. I think I’ll stick with the basics, buttons and seams, for now. Then we’ll see about getting the sewing machine fixed; that’s something I already know I’m good at.